Iceland will vote for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza at the United Nations General Assembly today confirms Foreign Affairs Minister Bjarni Benediktsson speaking to Vísir. The United States vetoed such a move in the U.N.’s 15-member Security Council last week. However, no country has veto power in the 193-member General Assembly, whose resolutions are non-binding, but carry political weight.
Bjarni has previously brushed off the idea that Iceland sever political ties with Israel or use unilateral sanctions, as global calls for a ceasefire grow louder. Health authorities in Palestine confirm that over 18,000 people have been killed in Israel’s two-month offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Protesters glitter bombed minister
In October, the General Assembly passed a ceasefire resolution, proposed by Jordan. 120 countries supported the resolutions and 14 opposed. Iceland was among the 45 countries who abstained. The news of Iceland’s abstention caused strive in the Government coalition, as it contradicts Iceland’s foreign policy on Palestine and the policy of Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir’s party, the Left-Green Movement. Katrín says she was not consulted on the decision and blamed the vote on a failure of communication. Protests outside Government buildings have been ongoing since and activists threw glitter on Bjarni last week as he attended an event at the University of Iceland.
As Foreign Affairs Minister, Bjarni bears responsibility for the UN vote. Bjarni resigned from the position of Finance Minister in October following criticism of his handling of the sale of state-owned bank Íslandsbanki. Following his resignation, his fellow Independence Party MP Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir took over as Finance Minister, while Bjarni took over her position as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Nordic countries support resolution
Today’s vote is a result of Egypt and Mauritania calling for an emergency meeting of the General Assembly. They claim that since the U.N. Security Council has not been able to discharge its primary responsibility of maintaining global peace due to lack of unanimity, the General Assembly must step in. After a meeting of the Icelandic cabinet this morning, Bjarni told press that the Nordic countries share in their support for the resolution, along with other countries.